Kalyn's Kitchen

Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Pesto Crust

Try this Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Pesto Crust for a low-carb dinner idea that always feels like something special. 

PIN Baked White Fish so you can make it later!

Low-Carb Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on KalynsKitchen.com

It’s always great to have some easy baked fish dinners in your cooking arsenal, and this Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Pesto Crust always produces results so spectacular that no one will ever think about this being a low-carb or Keto dish.  Serve this with a lovely salad of baby spinach and some type of roasted vegetable and it would be a perfect keto, low-carb, or South Beach Diet friendly dinner for any special occasion.

I love hanging out in the kitchen, but I’m not the kind of cook who wants to spend hours on a fussy recipe. I love recipes that are easy to prepare but have interesting ingredients with lots of flavor, and this recipe for baked white fish with a crust made of chopped pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic, pesto, and mayo certainly fits that description. And this is a recipe I’ve greatly enjoyed every time I’ve made it, so I am reminding you about it for Friday Favorites this week!

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

What Kind of White Fish Did I Use?

I first made this with fillets of halibut, but now halibut is so expensive that’s probably really a splurge for most people. You can use cod, bass, grouper, mahi-mahi, catfish, haddock, snapper, pollock, or any type of mild white fish. Depending on where you live, different varieties of white fish may be available and if you shop where there’s someone behind the counter, ask what they recommend. Here’s more about white fish from the Kitchn. 

What if you don’t have Pine Nuts?

I love, love, love pine nuts but I do know they’re a bit of a budget splurge. I buy them in a big bag at Costco and keep them in the freezer, and most recipes don’t use a super large amount so a bag will last me for years. But if you don’t want to buy them just for this recipe I’d use chopped almonds to replace the pine nuts. 

Low-Carb Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on KalynsKitchen.com

How to Make Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Pesto Crust:

(Scroll down for complete printable recipe.)

  1. Let the fish come to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 400F/200C.
  2. If your pieces of fish have a flatter side, put that side up so it’s easier to spread on the crust mixture. (You can use one large casserole dish if you don’t have individual dishes like this.)
  3. Finely chop the pine nuts, using a large chef’s knife, and finely mince one clove of garlic.
  4. Combine pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, basil pesto, and mayonnaise. I used my favorite basil pesto from a jar but if you have your own pesto in the freezer, that would be even better.
  5. Spread the crust evenly over each piece of fish, then bake for 10-15 minutes, or until fish is done and the crust is starting to get lightly browned.
  6. Serve hot and wait for compliments.

Low-Carb Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on KalynsKitchen.com

Make it a Low-Carb Meal:

This would be great with something like Roasted Cauliflower with Red Pepper, Green Olives, and Pine Nuts, Twice-Baked Cauliflower, or Garlic-Roasted Green Beans with Shallots and Almonds for a low-carb meal.

More Tasty Seafood Dinners To Try:

Low-Carb and Keto Baked Fish Dinners
Low-Carb and Keto Shrimp Dinners
The BEST Low-Carb Fish and Seafood Recipes

Low-Carb Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on KalynsKitchen.com

Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Pesto Crust

Yield 2 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

This low-carb Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust is special enough to make for guests.


  • 2 white fish fillets, about 6 oz. each (I used halibut but you could use cod, tilapia, grouper, or any mild white fish)
  • 3 T pine nuts
  • 2 T Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. finely minced garlic (1 garlic clove)
  • 1 tsp. basil pesto (I used purchased pesto)
  • 1 1/2 T mayo


  1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400F/200C. Spray individual casserole dishes with non-stick spray or olive oil (use one large casserole dish if you don’t have individual ones.)
  2. Remove the fish fillets from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature while the oven reheats. (Having the fish at room temperature is very important or it won’t cook before the crust topping gets too brown.)
  3. Use a large chef’s knife to finely chop the pine nuts and mince the garlic. Mix together chopped pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, basil pesto, and mayo.
  4. Use a rubber scraper to spread the crust mixture evenly over the surface of each fish fillet. Pile it on so all the crust mixture is used.
  5. Bake fish 10-15 minutes, until fish is firm to the touch and crust mixture is starting to lightly brown. (I baked the fish pieces in the photo for 13 minutes.) Serve hot.


Recipe inspired by a fish recipe from Cooking New American.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 283Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 89mgSodium: 266mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 24g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This Baked White Fish is suitable for any type of low-carb eating plan as well as any phase of the original South Beach Diet. Some of the ingredients in the crust topping are high in fat for South Beach, but only the Parmesan cheese has saturated fat and there’s not a lot of topping.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Check out My Favorite Low-Carb and Keto Recipes with Pesto for more tasty ideas for using basil pesto! Use Oven Dinners to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was first posted in 2010, and it has been a hit on the blog. It was last updated with more information in 2021.

Pinterest image of Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Pesto Crust

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    104 Comments on “Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Pesto Crust”

  1. Made this with grouper exactly as directed for valentines day! Couldn't have had a better meal at a fine restaurant. I did have to broil at the end for a minute or two. I have done other recipes from your site and I find them uncomplicated, creative and delicious. And.. with SBD in mind! YOu inspire me!

  2. Leona, I don't count calories so I don't have that information but under FAQ there is a link for a site I recommend where you can enter the recipe and it will calculate it.

  3. hi! I am counting calories currently and wold love to make this. Do you know how many calories this dish is?


  4. Pam, thanks so much for the nice thoughts about the blog. And lucky you with all that fresh seafood!

  5. Kayln – As background, my family lives on the Chesapeake Bay. We live on fish and seafood so I'm always looking for fresh, tasty new ways to prepare the bounty. Most times, I'm underwhelmed by new recipes but not this time …

    Tonight, I made rockfish fillets with the pine nut, parmesan, and basil pesto crust. Fabulous recipe! So good that knees got weak. DH had the same reaction.

    I've spent hours on your site since I discovered it a few months ago. Every recipe is fresh and tasty. Not one recipe disappointed – and I'm an experienced cook with high expectations.

    I have a site and a blog on a very different subject (advocacy for children with disabilities) – so I know how hard you work to provide fresh content. You've done a fabulous job.

    Thanks and take care!

  6. So glad you enjoyed experimenting with the recipe.

  7. I'm room temperaturing my halibut right now. I doubled all of the ingredients because they are so delicious. I split the (1 pound) of fresh halibut (it's spring) into three pieces and then again down the center for each piece. I put freshly steamed (and squeezed dried) spinach between the sections for health, and squeezed lemon over the whole thing. I'll let you know how it tasted…brb. (quiet music playing)… Delicious! oh my, but next time I may add the topping ingredients between the layers I made, it's that good.

  8. Thank you for your answer to the "not at all crunchy" post – will try your suggestions next week. Should have thought to dry the fish between paper towels and to increase the nuts – Sarah D

  9. It's hard for me to know what you did wrong without actually seeing you make it. But I will try.

    –If the fish was thawed from frozen, it might be helpful to put it between two pieces of paper towel and press down to remove some of the moisture.

    –Letting the fish come to room temperature before it cooks is pretty important.

    –You might have used too much pesto in proportion to the pine nuts if the topping wasn't at least a little crunchy. (Frozen pesto should be fine as long as it's fully thawed.)

    Hope that helps.

  10. re: White Fish with pesto topping:
    mine came out not at all crunchy and a melty consistency. Could it be because 1 – used previously frozen fish? 2 – had frozen batches of pesto earlier in summer 3 – used too much of something? want to try it again since it was yummy but would like some direction

  11. Thanks Sarah, so glad you enjoyed it!

  12. I just made this with tilapia and it was delicious. I chopped up my pine nuts too fine, so mine wasn't quite as pretty as yours, but it was definitely tasty! I just started following you on Pinterest and hope to attempt many more of your lovely recipes!

  13. I avoid fat-free mayo mostly because of the added sugar, but I don't know how well it will melt in a dish like this compared to regular or low-fat mayo, so I can't really say how it will work.

  14. hi kalyn, this looks great, can't wait to try it! forgive me for asking a silly question here – what would happen if i used fat-free mayo as opposed to low fat? is there a specific reason it won't work? thanks!

  15. Jeanne, so glad you like it. Your version sounds great too.

  16. Oh how wonderful! I make something similar with tomato pesto, breadcrumbs, parmesan and crushed almonds – this sounds glorious!

  17. Another great fish to try! I have cod in the freezer. Saw a comment about pairing this with garlicky green beans, sounds so good!!

  18. I don't eat fish. EVER. But this recipe makes me want to give it a second try… 🙂

  19. This is the only way I bake cod anymore. We have a lot of ling cod in the freezer. It is wonderful, thanks.

  20. Thank you. That's Fridays supper sorted. I will report back.